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China's September export growth tops forecasts

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China reported on Friday an unexpected acceleration in export growth in September and a record trade surplus with the United States, which could exacerbate an already-heated dispute between Beijing and Washington.

Beijing

CHINA reported on Friday an unexpected acceleration in export growth in September and a record trade surplus with the United States, which could exacerbate an already-heated dispute between Beijing and Washington.

September exports rose 14.5 per cent from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed. That blew past forecasts for an 8.9 per cent increase in a Reuters poll and was well above August's 9.8 per cent gain.

Growth in imports for September instead showed a moderate slowdown to 14.3 per cent from 19.9 per cent in August, slightly missing analysts' forecast of a 15 per cent growth.

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China's trade surplus with the United States widened to a record in September despite wider application of US tariffs, an outcome that could push President Donald Trump to turn up the heat on Beijing in their trade dispute.

The politically-sensitive surplus was US$34.13 billion in September, surpassing the record of US$31.05 billion in August.

China's export data has been surprisingly resilient to tariffs, possibly because companies ramped up shipments before broader and stiffer US duties went into effect.

A weaker yuan, which has depreciated about 6 per cent against the dollar this year, may have taken the sting out of the tariffs imposed on US$250 billion of exports to the United States.

Over the first nine months of the year, China's surplus with its largest export market totalled US$225.79 billion, compared with about US$196.01 billion in the same period last year.

For trade with all countries, China logged a surplus of US$31.69 billion for September, compared with forecasts in a Reuters poll for US$19.4 billion and August's surplus of US$27.89 billion.

China's economy is feeling the heat from a tit-for-tat tariff dispute and showing signs of slowing that prompted the central bank on Sunday to loosen policy by cutting banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for a fourth time this year.

A US Treasury official this week voiced concerns about China's recent currency depreciation.

With China's manufacturing sector cooling and export orders shrinking, Beijing has pledged to increase export tax rebates from Nov 1 for the second time this year and promised to cut corporate burden on a larger scale to help struggling Chinese firms.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecasts for this year and next, saying that the US-China trade war was taking a toll.

It also slashed China's growth forecast for next year to 6.2 percent from 6.4 per cent.

China will cut import tariffs on a wide range of goods beginning on Nov 1, as part of Beijing's pledge to take steps to increase imports this year amid rising tension. REUTERS